Ottawa commits an extra $30 million in annual funding for legal aid programs

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, June 6, 2016.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Ottawa plans to give the provinces more money for legal aid programs to help improve access to the justice system.

"All Canadians — no matter their means — should have the right to a fair trial and access to a modern, efficient justice system," Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The federal government committed $88 million over five years in the federal budget this year.

Wilson-Raybould now has announced another $30 million a year in ongoing funding to boost legal aid services for people who cannot afford to pay for lawyers.

But that additional funding will not begin until 2021 — two years after the next election.

"I am pleased that we can give our provincial and territorial partners the assistance they have been requesting to help fund legal aid plans throughout Canada," Wilson-Raybould said. "The clear financial commitment from the federal government will allow legal aid plans to serve the people who need them,"

The money will go to the federal Legal Aid Program, which is then distributed to the provinces for delivery of services.

Each province and territory sets its own policies and priorities when it comes to legal aid.

The government said the money will also come with performance measures to ensure it is doing what it is supposed to do.

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